April 20, 2004

Black Radical Congress Statement in Support of the Right to Gay Marriage

Black Radical Congress Statement in Support of the
Right to Gay Marriage

The Black Radical Congress stands in total solidarity with gay and lesbian people residing in the United States as they affirm their human right to marry under U.S. law on an equal basis with all others who enjoy the rights and benefits of marriage in this nation. We say that human beings who live as family, love each other as family and want society to perceive and treat them as family should be entitled to precisely the same legal acknowledgments granted to heterosexuals. Current efforts to deprive gay and lesbian people of equal marriage rights are an ultra right-wing attempt to deem "illegitimate" any family that does not conform to narrow-minded, religious fundamentalist doctrine. These Republican efforts are also timed to distract voters form the critical issues facing all of us: rising unemployment, lessening access to healthcare, and endless spending on war.

Since ancient times, homophobia has in various ways proscribed the freedom of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to live their lives openly and on a par with others, and denials of freedom are something we Black people know a lot about. During slavery, family members could be separated on a master's whim, never to see each other again. Indeed, although the word "family" does not appear in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. law evolved to include numerous supports for family connections in reaction against the destruction of family wrought by the institution of slavery.

The BRC cautions all Black people being called upon to oppose gay marriage to resist such calls. Given our own history of suffering and exclusion, we have no business assisting anti-democratic forces in their disgraceful campaign to deny marriage rights to a sector of the population that wishes merely to have their families accorded "equal protection of the laws." Whether the pretext is color or class or gender or sexual orientation, a denial of civil and human rights to people on the basis of who they are is unacceptable. The time was yesterday when we should realize that our overall struggle against racial oppression requires us to confront and fight against homophobia, not only on principle because it can limit and destroy Black people's lives, but also because it has harmed the lives of Black people, past and present, who are vital actors in the overall struggle. Have we forgotten James Baldwin, Bessie Smith, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Langston Hughes, Marlon Riggs, Barbara Smith and countless other lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender Black people who HAVE lent their voices and bodies to the ongoing movement for justice, even as they were being dissed and dismissed by their own sisters, brothers and associates? How can we continue living in denial of the fact that color is not the only layer of oppression that burdens many Black people? How can we, with our retrograde attitudes and actions within our own communities, continue making their burden heavier?

We could only shake our heads in sadness when a Black minister in Chicago was quoted as stating that "if the KKK opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them." That is precisely the kind of confused and misguided sentiment among many Blacks that right-wing forces are hoping they can marshal for their arsenal. While the right-wing claims to be attacking gay marriage out of "moral" concern for the welfare of American families and communities, morality is not the real issue here. If the right truly cared about the welfare of families, they would abandon support for the economic and political policies that daily challenge family survival -- wages inadequate to sustain families; inadequate health care; lack of affordable housing, etc. The assault on gay marriage rights is a cynical ploy aimed at directing anger toward an historically oppressed group and away from the real threats to security around the world.

In these times of dwindling employment, rising poverty, corporate corruption and foreign military adventures brought about by the desire of economically powerful forces to make even more billions than they already have, the Black Radical Congress decries the scapegoating of ANY sector of the people to divert attention from the total collapse of honest and humane governance in this country, and the looting of public coffers. We stand with gay men, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people of all colors in their quest for full and equal human rights, including the right to marry, raise children and sustain family life.

Black Radical Congress Coordinating Committee

(reminder VIA Bernie Tarver's blog, BEJATA)

Posted by ronn at April 20, 2004 11:02 PM